’It still seems like a dream’: Blanchard’s parents speak on new developments in case

Manhunt underway for suspect in Aniah Blanchard case

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - Authorities continue to search for missing 19-year-old Aniah Blanchard, and more details about her disappearance are being released.

Thursday, a person of interest in Blanchard’s disappearance was identified as 30-year-old Ibraheem Yazeed of Montgomery. From what Auburn police have shared about Yazeed, he’s had a few run-ins with law enforcement including currently being out of jail on bond for several charges, including two counts of first-degree kidnapping.

This news, when shared with Aniah’s parents who sat down with NBC News Thursday, struck a chord, especially with her stepfather Walt Harris.

“To say the least, it’s upsetting. That you have a rap sheet as long as what I’ve been told and you’re walking around free. It’s confusing how a person that bad and that evil can be amongst us,” Walt Harris said.

It didn’t make things easier for Blanchard’s parents when a person of interest was identified in their daughter’s disappearance.

“There’s a sense of rage, there’s a sense of anger that flows through you just thinking that that could be the person,” said Walt Harris.

For the time being, Blanchard’s family is doing their best at managing their emotions, like anger, or sadness.

“As a family it’s been tough balancing our emotions, finding out information, trying to gain knowledge about where to search, do our due diligence as parents, it’s so much - it’s overwhelming to say the least - to try to balance it all,” Blanchard’s stepfather said..

“We’re trying to hang onto hope that we’re gonna get her home,” said Blanchard’s mother Angela Harris.

One thing that’s helping Blanchard’s family get through this difficult time, is the outpouring of support within the community. Already, there have been several vigils and prayer services held in Auburn, Montgomery, and just recently in Blanchard’s hometown of Homewood.

“It was heartbreaking to see. We knew how much she was loved, but to see all of her friends hurting so bad, so bad, yeah it’s, it’s tough,” said Angela Harris fighting back tears.

For Walt, he appreciates all the support he’s getting from the UFC, where he competes as a fighter.

“It can’t be stated enough how much the UFC has done, how much they’re doing, and what they’ve done for me,” he said.

UFC President Dana White offered a $25,000 reward along with other offers to help out with any information that helps lead to the arrest and conviction of the person/s responsible for Aniah’s disappearance.

Both Blanchard’s parents and Auburn police are still focused on finding Blanchard and bringing her home safe.

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